NEW YORK (AP) — Two HarperCollins divisions that focus on romance novels have decided not to sponsor or participate in the Romance Writers of America's national conference this year, the latest blow to an organization in turmoil.

The move by the Harlequin division and Avon Books comes just days after the Romance Writers of America called off its annual awards following allegations that it lacks diversity.

During the holiday season, the association infuriated many in the romance community by initially reprimanding author Courtney Milan for tweeting that Kathryn Lynn Davis’ 1999 book “Somewhere Lies the Moon” was an “(expletive) racist mess.” The association reversed its decision but not in time to prevent an uproar that led to the resignation of President Carolyn Jewell and several board members.

Craig K. Swinwood, CEO of HarperCollins Canada and Harlequin, in a letter dated Wednesday said his division pulled out of the association's conference because “it is important that all authors feel included, respected and heard.” He said the division would reevaluate its participation next year.

Avon Books, in a tweet, said it also would steer clear of the national conference, saying it stood in “support of inclusive publishing.”

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Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits